Happiness is Relative

Religion isn’t all bad. Sometimes false information leads to the correct conclusion or even to good results.  

Case in point: If you really do believe the Fridge is the one true being we should worship and see it’s power manifest in all our kitchens… If you truly believe the one commandment of the Fridge, a simple “Be Nice” then it follows that you might see another person in distress, remember the words of your cool God, then reach out and do something about it.  

The fact you helped another isn’t because you believed the Fridge was true. It’s because you believed that particular commandment of the Fridge was a good thing to remember. But here’s the question: Without the Fridge and the silly belief in it’s divinity would you have felt the tug of being nice in that particular situation? Something to ponder.  

One experience I ponder that forever affected my outlook occurred on my own mission for the Mormon faith. Something I obviously consider now was served under a completely false premise, in case you didn’t notice. ūüôā 

It happened while I sat and visted with a member on a tiny wood bench on a dirt floor in his little ro’choch, just talking. Since K’ekchi is an all but forgotten language let me use a picture to translate. The inside of his ro’choch looked something like this. 


It was his home. A small 10×15 thatched roof, hand made house his family lived in. By comparison, I was unbelievably wealthy to be there living on about 150$ a month just to preach to this guy how much God needed him to pay tithing. (And how rich he would he eternally if he did!)

I marveled as we talked, this man was genuinely happy. Together we’d worked hard, picking the greenest, yet sweetest oranges you’d ever seen, taking them to market to eek out a living for his wife and kids. I’d gotten to know him really well over the months spent in that area and he was happy, nearly all the time. Happy to be alive, happy to share, happy to have family and friends. I still remember him offering me one of the oranges and thinking this is all this guy and his kids survive on and here he is sharing one. It was incredibly sweet and delicious as I remember it now. Could the situation I was in have affected the flavor? I think so. 

The lesson I learned that day that was happiness isn’t about what you have, it’s about the value you place on what you have. To him he was a doing great. He was a leader in his community, he had a family in which most his kids had survived their childhood. By local measures he was doing just fine. Where I saw poverty, he saw wealth. Where I saw a struggle for survival he saw gratefulness just to be alive. The secret to happiness I realized that hot jungle day, was perspective. Even now, even though I believe the premise under which I went there was ultimately a false one. I am still happy I learned that valuable lesson. It has come back to me over and over at the hardest moments in my life and well, helped me be happy again. 

Not everyone gets a chance to go and live and work among the poorest people on our planet. But I wish were so because it only takes one time seeing and feeling the joy the girls in this picture felt getting lucky enough to take a take a bath that you realize an eternal truth of the universe:

Happiness is relative, all you have to do find it, is change your perspective. 

Abraham Was A Coward

The worlds two biggest religions celebrate the faith of the same man. A guy named Abraham. 

Abraham was so faithful that he took his own son strapped him to an altar and plunged a knife toward his chest.  

Now the believers will tell you no harm was done because an angel stopped Abraham before it was too late. 

  
I kind of doubt this is true because I can’t imagine that the kid didn’t feel traumatized after such an event, but even then. So what? 

So what if God stopped him before it was too late? How does that make what Abraham did ok?

Let’s put this story in another context to see what I mean. Suppose a powerful leader demands a person kill his kid as a sign of faith in thier leadership. Go ahead, pick one. Hitler? Obama? Al Capone? Is a faithful submission to such a demand ok in that case?

The God of Abraham is presumably a really powerful person and can kill others pretty easily.  So why does he need someone else to do it for him? And why celebrate that act as something only the most faithful person would do? Why make that a model to strive for? 

I think religion f%#ks up a person’s sense of morality and the story of Abraham is a prime example. In any other setting Abraham would be considered a coward. A man too chicken to do what is right. To concerned with saving his own eternal skin to consider the morality of tying his own son to a rock and attempting to kill him. 

This is a guy trying to ‘win favor’ with the mob boss by any means necessary. But religions call it ‘faith’ and celebrate it. The more I contemplate this the more I think deep down the religious are cowards. They seek out the biggest wolf in the pack and fight others in his name and for his protection.  

We see this all the time in the animal kingdom. I have a couple of pet dogs that are more than willing to take on others for the protection and home I give them. Given mammals share a lot of DNA I can understand the genetics that reinforce this behavior in humanity.  

But isn’t being human about going beyond our animal instincts? Shouldn’t we celebrate standing up to oppression rather that accepting it? 

I think it’s high time we celebrated people like Jack Harper more than cowards like Abraham. 

In short, we should do what is right and let the consequence follow. Even if you fear the consequence is eternal damnation. True courage is doing what is right even when you have everything to lose. 

  

The Shame of Being Good Looking

Elder Bendar of my old faith recently helped me realize why I have struggled so much with the LDS faith. He pointed out the difficulties of homosexual members that don’t actually exist in the church and compared them to something I immediately connected with. The difficulties of being ridiculously good looking! In case you missed it. This is what he said:

‚ÄúWould it be a challenge to be very beautiful or very handsome, and in the world in which we live, never develop deep character because we are able to open doors and have success just because of our physical appearance? And we become shallow and superficial in many aspects of our lives.‚ÄĚ

Knowing that my good looks have made it hard for me to look myself in the mirror every morning has really helped me a lot. I can get up now and feel completely accepted by those lucky plain people by knowing just like those with same sex attraction that I too have a place in the church!

Today I realized that just like people with different color skin, that my beautiful face doesn’t define me. In the way LDS black people of old weren’t really born that way but given a trial to overcome as they endevored to make their skins white. I only need to make continuous effort each day to overcome my tendancy to be so good looking.  

I now know if I simply endure this inborn attractiveness to the end and strive to be plain and unbecoming that I too can be worthy of all God has to offer! 

This is such a comforting thought. It reminds me of when I was young and jealous of the burden my Lamanite brethren had to bear and how prophets promised them they would be blessed for their trials:

“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised (2 Ne. 30:6). In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.”

The prophet Kimball was so right! There were no ‘black’ people in the church! Only various shades of God’s children striving to be white!!

The truth that those that are gay will one day be made straight as modern day prophets like Bednar have so recently promised gives me hope that this difficult curse of handsomeness I have been blessed to bear in this life will be eventually removed as I find my place amongst God’s homely chosen ones. 

Thank Fridge.

  

Confidence Man

Just a bit ago, I had someone tell me that people just didn’t con the people back in the 1800s, that is why I shouldn’t be skeptical of Joe Smith when he started a fraudulent bank or charged people for scrying buried treasure that he never found. He certainly wasn’t in it for the money! That got me to thinking…

As is common to many of us now days when we wonder about a bit of history or how things work, I turned to the google machine. This popped up on NPRs website.

How Scams Worked In The 1800s

The article said:

…Arguably, the 1800s were the Golden Age of schemes. The term “confidence man” or “con man” was probably coined midcentury and, according to the¬†New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge was sold more than once to unsuspecting folks in the 1880s and 1890s…¬†

“Modes of communication were not so swift,” she says, “so it was easier for itinerant swindlers to move from town to town, practicing the same small cons within a given region without getting caught.”

Reading this sent my post-mormon confirmation bias ringing off the charts! If you have studied even a small amount of Mormon history you know that this group of people moved a lot. Especially when Joe was running the show.

I immediately thought of one often taught situation where Joe, upon arriving in Kirkland walks up to general store owner, Newel K. Whitney, and said:

¬†‚ÄúI am Joseph, the Prophet. You‚Äôve prayed me here; now what do you want of me?‚ÄĚ

Talk about brash confidence! This story is a faith promoting one of how Joe miraculously knew the name of a store owner and ends up with them giving him and his family a place to stay for the night.

To me first time through this seemed amazing, partly I am sure because of the way it was presented. But if you stop to think about it. Is it really that hard to find out the name of a store owner in a new town? Especially of the only general store in town? Probably not. Most people prayed for help and stuff those days too, not too much a stretch to guess that part either. But such is the way of magic tricks and conmen. They make it seem amazing when the trick is so simple that if you discover it you are ashamed you were so easily fooled.

I was a mormon very much like the dad in the south park episode relating the story of his religion. Blissfully proud of that miraculous way Joe made up for the pages that went missing!!

These days I’m much more the dumbfounded Stan wondering how in the world people believe this stuff!

But isn’t that the way it goes when you are bamboozled? The mark is always happy to be taken. It is the sign of a good con.

For a bit I did my best to counter my own bias as I googled around the church history I was learning. My old beliefs definitely popped up to defend themselves by pointing out that Joseph had started a religion before the fraudulent bank1 while he ran from town to town. I mean were there really that many religions started in the 1800s?

Turns out there were, it was called The Second Great Awakening because there were so many of them:

“The Second Great Awakening stimulated¬†the establishment¬†of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

Mormonism wasn’t particularly unique in its goals for the time nor even the most successful¬†one. Prophetess Ellen White and the Seventh Day Adventists claim some 18 million followers and started about the same time. So much for that stone cut without hands eh?

So con man or prophet? I guess that is the question every LDS person faces sooner or later about Joseph Smith.2 One thing is for sure, there is a lot more to the story than is taught in Sunday School. If you don’t believe me, try putting together some timelines of the events on your own. It is very enlightening. But am I gonna convince you you might have been fooled? Not likely, especially if you adamantly don’t want to know. But I do feel it is my duty to at least voice a warning.

One last note from wikipedia:

Confidence tricks exploit typical human characteristics such as¬†greed,¬†dishonesty,¬†vanity,¬†opportunism,¬†lust,¬†compassion,¬†credulity,¬†irresponsibility,¬†desperation, and¬†na√Įvety. As such, there is no consistent profile of a confidence trick victim; the common factor is simply that the victim relies on the good faith of the con artist. Victims of investment scams tend to show an incautious level of greed and gullibility, and many con artists target the elderly, but even alert and educated people may be taken in by other forms of a confidence trick.

A confidence man gains your confidence, a confidence man projects his confidence in the same investment he is asking you to commit to. It leverages social connections, it leverages your fears and your greed.

Are you afraid of dying? Would you want to have the power of a God? If the answer is yes to both these questions. Please ask yourself once more…

Are you still confident that Mormonism is a religion not a con? Are you smart smart smart smart smart, or dum dum dum dum dum? ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Google Kirkland Safety Society to do some of your own learning’, you will be glad you did, um well, or maybe not.
  2. For the record I think Joe started believing his own con. People that learn the tricks of psychics and cold reading often report how easy it is to get trapped in the idea they have those powers. If thousands of people start calling you a prophet, do you think it might go to your head a bit? Even if it had just started as a way to make a living?

The Secret Rules of Doctrine, Something Needs to Change

In an effort to become a mainstream religion the church of the Fridge will adopt a secret rule book that only the leaders get to read. Of course it is by this rule book that all members will be judged. This is only for the good of the membership of course. How else will we protect our sweet children? For thus saith the Fridge ‘my house is a house of order and guidance must be therein.’ Even common sense testifies that a clean and ordered Fridge is a beauty to behold!

But first a question, how does that make you feel? Is it bothersome that there is a secret book you don’t get to read, and yet it is by that tome¬†you will be judged either worthy or unworthy of eternal rewards? I mean really think about it. I have been for the last week or so on the heels of this latest debacle in regards to my past faith. What happened was they came out with an update to Handbook 1. One of the important things about Handbook 1 is it provides consistent rules for those in local leadership to use to determine the churches actions in regards to a person’s eternal soul.

Remember (like many religions) the LDS faith offers you salvation, well technically you get salvation for free when you dig into the doctrine. They offer you something even better called exaltation. Here’s the two sentence summary. Salvation comes to everyone that made it to earth (meaning before this earth life you sided with Jesus instead of Lucifer in a big war… or argument. (That part isn’t too clear.) Salvation means you get resurrected and live again. If you are a total dick, like murdering and raping or generally being an atheist that puts you in the Telestial category, if you believed in Jesus but thought the Mormons were nuts you get a Terrestrial reward. Both these are just different levels of salvation. If you to be really awesome and get to live with your family forever, you got to be a card carrying, temple going, endure to the end, Mormon. That is how you become exalted. That is the celestial kingdom and Godhood and Goddesshood,1 worlds without end and all sorts of eternal goodness to keep you from getting bored while living forever.

But the point is, the religion offers you something for your obedience to it. You just have to follow the rules and believe in the doctrine it promotes. If you don’t then you are in what is called a state of apostasy. Something that requires you get kicked out and lose rights to all those big promises.

This is where the secret book comes in. One thing you discover when debating religion with the LDS faith is their definition¬†of doctrine is pretty hard to pin down. Especially if you take a rule they come up with and apply it to their own history. Many mormons will tell you that Prophets speak the word of God over the pulpit in conference, but as soon as you point out something awful said by one of them, all of a sudden they were just old dude’s making a mistake. So you ask how do you know it is really doctrine or not? In my own research every possible rule you can use to call something doctrinal seems to be broken to the point you have zero confidence in figuring out what is legit and what isn’t. 2

I realized something this last week though. There is a book where the rubber hits the road. Because when it comes to your membership in this organization and all the blessings it promises. There is a guideline written down (even if the average member isn’t allowed to read it). It is Handbook 1.

So follow me for a moment. If it is important enough to kick you out of the religion and recant all your blessings doesn’t it make sense that is real doctrine? It would have to be right? Sure you can call the actions taken a policy¬†but the actions wouldn’t be needed if a member wasn’t following the doctrine of the faith. This made a lot of sense to me and I applied it to this latest leak on the update to Handbook 1.


As you look at this the severity of punishment meted out helps you realize how important a particular doctrine is. Some really obvious conclusions… Obedience to church leaders is a doctrine! (If you have been through the temple this should come as no surprise, think about the promises you make there.) Teaching doctrine that is contrary to doctrine is bad. Sure would help to have that definition of what constitutes doctrine then wouldn’t it? Or maybe the issue really is doing something after being told not to…. There is that obedience thing again. Not being totally dedicated to the one true church seems to be a reason to seriously question your membership and all those awesome blessing promises.

Then there is that head scratcher number 4. Gay Marriage requires your membership be questioned. Remember kicking you out is what God wants if you aren’t CK material. So it is pretty obvious that gay marriage is contrary to the doctrine of God as far as the Mormon church is concerned. So bad in fact it seems to be ranked worse than forcible rape, attempted murder and sex abuse.

Seriously? Are you supposed to tell a little girl that has been raped that her rapest has a better chance of being an exalted eternal being than her two loving moms?  Such a concept insults every sense of moral fairness a decent human being has. Why must religion do this to us? Why must sticking to dogma require us to justify doctrine that is so caustic it assaults your very soul? I think this is one reason why at the end of my implicit trust in faith and those who claim the special knowledge of the heavens that something changed in me. To be honest I hope to all that is holy in the Fridge, something will change in you too.

Something has changed within me

Something is not the same

I’m through with playing by the rules

Of someone else’s game

Too late for second-guessing

Too late to go back to sleep

It’s time to trust my instincts

Close my eyes and leap!
It’s time to try

Defying gravity

I think I’ll try

Defying gravity

Kiss me goodbye

I’m defying gravity

And you won’t bring me down
I’m through accepting limits

‘Cause someone says they’re so

Some things I cannot change

But ’til I try, I’ll never know!

Too long I’ve been afraid of

Losing love I guess I’ve lost

Well, if that’s love

It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy

Defying gravity

Kiss me goodbye

I’m defying gravity

I think I’ll try

Defying gravity

And you won’t bring me down
Unlimited (unlimited)

My future is (future is) unlimited (unlimited)

And I’ve just had a vision

Almost like a prophecy

I know it sounds truly crazy

And true, the vision’s hazy

But I swear, someday I’ll be…
Flying so high! (defying gravity)

Kiss me goodbye! (defying gravity)
So if you care to find me

Look to the western sky!

As someone told me lately,

“Everyone deserves the chance to fly!”
I’m defying gravity!

And you won’t bring me down, bring me down, bring me down!

  1. Albeit that doctrine has been a bit down played as of late
  2. If you are a Mormon reading this, please feel free to comment on how you determine something is doctrinal and something isn’t, I’d be happy to point out the contradiction to the rule that caused me to lose confidence in it.

Marriage = Apostasy


The newest LDS church handbook has an update that stood out to those in the know enough that it is making the rounds in Mormon and ExMormon circles.

Here is what it says: (screen shot procured from LDs.org by someone that has access to these books typically only given to church leaders.)

Note point 4. If you are married (same gender that is) you are now officially an apostate.

I get why they did this, they have to keep gay people from having a valid reason to be married in the temple. It is the homophobia of current leadership manifesting itself. Not unlike the same issue they had with interracial marriage did not that long ago.

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.
                        РBrigham Young, Journal of Discourses 10:110


Posts on the Fridge door have mentioned this before. You see one thing that seems to commonly run through church history is initial rejection of an idea until popular support reaches a point that it endangers the lively hood of the church. In this case they can still afford kicking out a few apostates. Even the tithing dollar loss is covered with things like massive 30 billion dollar plus real estate developments that are in the works.

So this move to cast out anyone willing to marry someone of the same sex is of course not that big a surprise from the religion that brought you proposition 8. It is however really ironic. Because you see you can be plural married today, right now in an LDS temple. I have a good friend that became a plurally sealed wife to her divorced husband because he got sealed to a new wife in the temple before they were ever unsealed. Yep thats right a divorce doesn’t automatically breakup an eternal marriage, not in LDS theology that is. Man can’t destroy what God has bound together ‘n all that. So if you are a guy (sorry this doesn’t apply to you ladies) you can totally have a second eternal sealing without nary a blip about undoing the first one. (ladies are required to get their temple sealing removed via proper authority before they can marry in the temple again).

I find it really ironic that the church that today bends its own rule 3 feels the need to create rule 4. Just to make sure those darn gays can’t get into the temples! That is the problem with polygamy, it never has really gone away… So all this its about the family 1 man, 1 woman stuff is really just a smokescreen. An excuse to justify intolerance and misunderstanding. As of today in the LDS church the penalty for gay marriage is now worse than the penalty for infidelity. So have all the gay lovers you want, just don’t make a family commitment with any of them! Families are that important!! <sarcasm font>.

It is getting so ridiculous that it is kind of entertaining, like watching a train wreck because sooner or later the tides will shift, just like they did with interracial marriage. Mark my words as profet. There are those of the rising generation that will see gay marriage in LDS temples one day. (I’m sure that will be at least as accurate as similar predictions of the second coming :))

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